Italian Archaeologists are enraged at Saturday’s collapse of the House of Gladiators in Pompeii. The 40 ft. wide structure had recently undergone reconstruction work on its roof, which might have contributed to its total collapse during heavy rains early on Saturday morning. An even greater culprit may turn out to be the Italian Arts Ministry. The ministry’s secretary general, Roberto Cecchi, admitted the building hasn’t had routine maintenance for more 50 years.
Now archaeologists, environmentalists, and conservationists are calling for the arts minister to resign and are demanding an investigation.
The Schola Armaturarum was buried like the rest of Pompeii when the nearby Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. There is some debate about the building’s original use, with archaeologists unsure if it was a school, an armory, or something else. A series of frescos of winged Victories bearing weapons has led many researchers to draw the conclusion that the building was reserved for gladiators. Pompeii receives millions of visitors every year and while the building wasn’t open to the public, it was next to a walkway. If the collapse had happened during opening hours, archaeologists warn, people could have been injured or killed.
State prosecutors are already investigating how funding for the site has been used and if there has been any Mafia involvement. Huge cuts to arts and culture funding has prompted a Italian museum strike on November 12.
[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]